Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

Thursday 5 November, London

Thursday 29 October, Birmingham

Thursday 22 October, Cardiff

Thursday 15 October, Leeds

Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth

Thursday 1 October, Manchester

Thursday 24 September, London


Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth

Question Time was in Bournemouth for last week's programme along with panel guests Clare Short Secretary of State for International Development, Richard Branson Chairman and founder of Virgin, Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Howard and David Yelland who is Editor of Britain's best-selling tabloid The Sun.

Here is how you -the global audience - reacted to the issues raised in the studio debate.

Tory Party politics

Audience question: "Is William Hague dead and buried?"

David Yelland said: "He has come out fighting this week ... but the Tory Party has ceased to be a credible opposition."

Michael Howard said: "He is doing a great job in very difficult circumstances."

You said:

Listening to the Tory Party Conference this week in Bournemouth reaffirmed my opinion that the Tories are being torn assunder by civil war on the European issue. I also think that it will be at least a generation before the Tories will get back into power, even if they survive for that long. And William Hague will most likely not be Tory Leader and PM.
Niall Magner

I agree that William Hague's policies are definitely worth all of our attention and consideration, but are we really expected to take his cheeky, northern caricature seriously?
Stewart Bywater

Why don't the Conservatives recognise the leadership potential of Chris Patten, as the Labour party apparently have.
Nick Gould

So if no one is interested in the opposition and what they have to say, how did Labour as an opposition party become the party of Government?
Jon-Paul Graham

As regards Clare Short's comments about William Hague's appearance, clearly the Tories have nothing to worry about if all Labour can do is resort to tasteless and quite juvenile personal insults in order to score political points.
David Chmiel

Audience question: "In view of the defection from the Conservative Party, is the formation of a new pro-European Party a possibility?"

Michael Howard said: "It is not a question of whether you are pro or anti-European ... I am pro-European ... but it would be madness for Britain to be bounced into Europe now."

Richard Branson said: "It would be madness to be left out of Europe...Sometimes in life you need to take risks."

You said:

Hearing Mr Branson speaking on your programme, I would suggest that he, and not Mr Blair is the most dangerous man in Britain.....Stick y' neck out.....take a chance are not phrases of one who has really considered ALL the issues. If there is massive unemployment and consequential massive civil unrest it will be as a result of people such as Mr Branson. The word he used (regarding EMU) ' cartel ' is accurate and implies a form of rigged market. A rigged market will trade within itself quite well....but may find it difficult to sell its products to those outside the cartel.
N J Costin

The danger in Britain adopting the euro, is that we pay so much more for everything, the British people will be very surprised when there is a clear cost comparison. People will shop abroad because the British government tax too much.
Alistair McCloy

I fully agree with Richard Branson and Claire Short - how can we NOT be a part of the Euro - once again we are going to be left at the post and controlled by France and Germany similar to the DeGaule/Heath controversy in the 50s and 60s. We must be part of the euro.
Paul Gilhooley

European Monetary Union

Audience question: "In the light of the disagreement over monetary union, why are we delaying a referendum?"

David Yelland said: "It is because they (Labour) think they'll lose."

Clare Short said: "We looked into whether to go in now but the whole cycle of economic events in Britain is out of tune with the rest of Europe."

You said:

I, as a final year economics student, find the prospect of such a referendum in the near future quite frightening. I have heard convincing opinions both in favour and against the UK joining the euro, and I am still undecided on my own opinion. I believe that the general public does not, rightly, understand the intricacies of such a decision. For us to decide without being fully educated on the subject could just be a disaster.
Joanne Donnelly

Why this pre-occupation with closer European links and a referendum on monetary union? The British people have already clearly demonstrated with whom they have a close affininty. The USA already has a dominating influence over our language, social trends, consumer trends, eating habits, clothing, music, preferred holiday destinations,etc. etc. The geographical proximity of the European mainland is the only real link to the rest of Europe. How significant is that given modern transport and communication links?
John Howe

With the media and spin doctors manipulating the issues, what is the public to believe anymore? And in any referendum, would you trust the public to actually make the 'right' decision?
Edmund Teo

Let's stay British. We don't want the euro.
Martin McGuinness

I agree with Conservatives stand on Europe and believe that a referendum held now would result in a NO to monetary union, but I believe that refusing to join on principle without entertaining the idea of ever joining, may be against the interest of the business community of the country.
Richard Weremiuk

Impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton

Audience question: "Would it be better for President Clinton to resign or wait for the effects of impeachment?"

David Yelland said: "He will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the White House."

Richard Branson said: "He has been punished enough and there are much more important things for him to do."

You said:

I do not agree that sexual behaviour between concenting adults who happen to be in power should come under the scrutiny of the public. However Clare Short's comment did make me review my thinking. She is right that the exposure of lies puts a slant on things. I do not agree with the hypocrisy surrounding the American witch hunt of Clinton however. Clare was her usual honest self which I value in a politician.
Susan Joy

Sadly, Secretary Short is entirely correct. President Clinton is unfit to hold office. Yes a Prime Minister would have been dismissed but almost any other US official would have been dismissed too. Currently, a Staff Sgt of the US Army is serving 25 years in Leavenworth Stockade for sex with Army recruits. The top enlisted man in the Army faced court martial for similar acts. In addition to sexual harrassment there is the issue of perjury. The President should resign for the good of the country.
David O'Connor

I feel that Clare Short was wrong to say that Bill Clinton should no longer be the president of the United States of America. However she was right in saying that if this happened in Britain then our Prime Minister would be asked to resign.
Cheryl West

As a citizen of the USA, who voted for President Clinton in 1992 and 1996 I support the Foreign Secre- tary and not Ms Short. Bill Clinton has presided over one of the most prosperous economic times in our history. He secured passage of the Family & Medical Leave Act which provides for a worker to take up to 12 weeks of leave from their job for their own illness or the illness of a father, mother, spouse or child. He ended welfare as we know it and he has been the best friend of education to ever occupy the White House. President Clinton is a good man who did a bad thing, but he is doing a good job & deserves to finish his term. We do not oust a president for being human. No-one could hold that office if that were the case. As for Ms Short, it is un- fortunate that she had to shoot off her mouth and embarrass the Labour government. If I were a British sub- ject I would vote Labour and believe Prime Minister Tony Blair is doing a good job for the UK. The Labour Party might want to consider repla- cing Ms Short in her cabinet post if she can't keep her mouth shut on subjects that are best addressed by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
Jeff Johns

If the cold war was still on, Bill Clinton might be considered to be vulnerable. If Monica Lewinsky and other girls before and after her found it so easy 'to get his undivided attention' it should be easy for female spies of enemy countries/powers to get 'instant access' to the president. If Profumo had to go because Christine Keeler provided that 'instant access' what's so different with Bill Clinton? Has the world really moved on to the extent that the bedroom is taboo for spying purposes? Or has the world just become more naive?
Dagmar Koeneking

Claire Short is well known for her outspokenness, but she did make it clear she was expressing a personal view. I am not sure whether she will retain a position in government for very much longer however, since too many commentators see her as a "loose cannon". As to what she actually said on the programme though, I have to agree with her views.
Kevin Webster

Ms Short is wrong when she says President Clinton would be "gone" if he was a British prime minister. If Mr Clinton was a British prime minister, he would have used the Official Secrets Act to cover all this up. That's what British prime ministers usually do. No such legislation exists in the United States, of course, for it would be a gross violation of the US Constitution and the Supreme Court would strike it down unanimously. As an American lawyer, I can assure everyone of that. I would respectfully suggest to Ms. Short that it is not a bad idea to research the laws of another country if she wishes to speak authoritatively on the subject. Otherwise, she may embarrass herself.
Thomas Threlkeld

Clare: stay out of it. You've stepped over the line. We cut our ties from your brain-drained country because of the manifest destiny of America to lead the world. Our boy Bill is the only leader of world stature in a pantheon of midgets. Back off, Clare. You're undermining world stability with your nattering negativity.
Robert S. Mellis, ex-Brit, now in Maine, USA

"What is all the fuss about? He is not the first man to have out of marriage sex. This is a matter for him and his family to sort out and I feel the Republicans are just out to waste time trying to impeach him." This is not about extra-marital sex, and I'm sick of hearing it suggested that it is. The fact that this suggestion keeps reappearing says something about people's ability to refuse to face facts they might not like. What it's really about is that the President of the United States, who took an oath to ensure that the law was upheld, lied under oath for personal benefit (to begin with, to help avoid paying damages to Paula Jones). The comparison with Jonathan Aitken in this country is almost exact; would anyone regard him as fit to hold public office again?
Alex Swanson

The real issue behind the horrible re-definition of President Clinton's character is that a bunch of mean spirited Republicans who could not win an election in the 'open' and 'fair' arena of public opinion - sought to blacken this man's character and that of his wife. Never before in American history has there been such a rabid attack on a president. A good question that each person should be asking is this: "What has really happened to the decency of those men who are doing the 'damning of this president'? The world has been in need of good leadership and it has had just that. And, while we are at it, let none of us forget about the 'rights of privacy' of each citizen. A new Gestapo mentality is breaking out in our land. And, its tenacles are spreading all over the free world. What you see happening today is what happens in nations that lose their freedom and rights. America is being held hostage by radicals who have no conscience and will destroy what they cannot win against in a 'fair' competition. That is a major change. And, it has implications of both a political and sociological significance. This is a very sad day for America and beyond that, it is a very sad day for our world. In time people will be asking the question: 'what in God's name were we doing-at that time in history'? A time when progress and prosperity was setting new records all over the Western World. A time when peace was becoming more of a reality. A time when diplomacy was taking the place of war. A time of plenty and a time of promise.
Dave Adams

Surely, the issue is not how many women Clinton is alledged to have had "sex" with but more on the principle of trust. President Clinton the most powerful man on the planet has lied continuously to the people. He cannot therefore be trusted and needs to resign before impeachment proceding take place (31st Dec) however I cannot see this happening as he appears to be a very gutless president. One only wonders now how many minutes after he leaves/or is removed from office, that Hilary takes Chelsea and leaves the rat.
T Freeman

What is all the fuss about? He is not the first man to have out of marriage sex. This is a matter for him and his family to sort out and I feel the Republicans are just out to waste time trying to impeach him.
Mr Cotterell

I think that Clare Short portrayed herself as a true unprofessional in yesterday's show. She demonstrated absolutely no loyalty whatsoever to her leader, Tony Blair. When told this by a member of the audience, she dug herself a deeper hole by saying that not everyone in the party shares the same views. As a senior member of the cabinet, it was highly inappropriate for her to share her deep-set personal views, particularly as they conflicted with the PM's. With aspirations to enter the political world myself, Ms. Short certainly did not let me depict a professional role model to aspire to.
Miss Sheenal Thaker

I read the comments of Ms Short in the paper here. I think she's absolutely correct. Please don't get the idea that we, here in the colonies, think what Clinton did is proper. He does not represent me nor anyone I know. Had he been statesman enough to live up to his responsibility he wouldn't have squandered his attention as he did. Cheers to Ms Short!
Matt Parsons

Global economic crisis

Audience question: "Why is Gordon Brown asking other countries to drop interest rates when he won't intervene here and we only got a quarter of a per cent cut instead of a half?"

Michael Howard said: "The Bank of England is not accountable ... we ought to see demonstrators outside the Treasury."

David Yelland said: "Gordon Brown has created the atmosphere where if Eddie George hadn't lowered interest rates, he would have been lynched."

You said:

As a ex-patriot Briton living in the US, I view Mr Howard's comment about the global fiscal crisis being "Labour's fault" as the the usual purile statement you would expect from a politician of his qualifications !!!!
D M Lambert-Knight

One of Micheal Howard's line of attacks was that the government had "gone on a spending spree". A Labour government should not apologise for spending money to help improve people's health, improve education and assist unemployed people train to find a job. As far as charges of economic mismanagement are concerned, the Conservatives presided over two of the worst recessions since the war. Viewers may be interested to know that the rate of average economic growth was lower under the Thatcher regime than during the last Labour Government, despite being elected only months after the oil crisis.
Ross Gilligan

Surely the problems in the economy over the last three months or so have been bubbling away in the world for at least the last three or four years?
Ian Vale

In response to Clare Short's unconvincing description of UK's dual economy I ask this question: What prevented Labour from using tax rises to control strong consumer spending rather than leaving the conveniently independent Bank of England to use interest rates hikes? Maybe Sterling would have remained at more sensible levels against the other major currencies whilst consumer spending was kept under control if Labour had been this far-sighted and not so scared of the electorate that overwhelmingly voted them into government.
Tom Douie

Isn't it about time we had people who can run a business running the country instead of people who say what they would like to see but don't know how to achieve it?
Alan Bruce

Railway privatisation

Audience question: "Can the private sector run an efficient public transport service?"

Richard Branson said: "It will take us under five years to make Virgin Rail the best."

Clare Short said: "The private sector needs double the subsidy but is less efficient."

You said:

I am sick and tired of people knocking Richard Branson. He, unlike the other members of the panel, takes on the responsibility of running businesses with his own money, not the people's money raised through taxes etc. Every day he has to back up what he says with his personal finances. He has shown time and again that he is an extremely clever, careful and competent businessman and, as such, deserves to be shown respect and given credit for what he has done for this country, not constantly lambasted for not managing to do instantly what governments have not managed to do in 50 or more years. Good on you, Richard. Would that politicians had the balls to put their necks and wallets on the line!
Alan J Lambert

I don't care who is providing the service as long as it is good!!
Noreen

I am writing regarding Virgin Trains, I like Richard Branson, but I feel he has bitten off more than he can chew. I am sick and tired of Virgin Trains and the privitased rail services, in particular Virgin Trains, it is now almost nine weeks since my problems and I am still dissatsified. Maybe the best way to get from A-B is to either fly, catch the coach or even balloon. I can see it now "the balloon landing on platform four is for ..."
Richard Exley

Tonr Blair has a highly publicised positive acquaintancy with Richard Branson (eg. Labour victory Party where Mr Branson was present). Ms. Short's critisicm of Virgin railways was done so in a crude manner which had no backing up. I think that should the Labour Party want to maintain their popularity, speakers such as Clare Short who show them up should be avoided!
Miss Sheenal Thaker

The private sector is now trying to correct, in the lifetime of their franchises, the ills of British Rail, that were allowed to build up by successive adminstrations (both Labour and Tory). Rather than having the patchwork of private companies, would it not have been better to have invested the money when it was needed i.e. over the last 15-25 years. Having said that the rail traveller is now suffering the failure of the last and current government's feeble efforts to put things right !!!
Clive Burt






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